Review by Ice69_69

"Retrospective: Still one of the greatest ever"

November 9th 1999. This day means many things to many people. To gamers though, it is a very special day. Not only is it the day that Sega launched the last console they ever would, but it also the day that Squaresoft unleashed unto us the greatest Final Fantasy they had ever created and still today, almost 7 years later, the greatest one they have made. And in process Square played a hand in Sega's ultimate demise. Truly only Square, and possibly Sony could have done such a thing. And on November 9th 1999, they teamed up and did it.

Hindsight is 20/20 and so I hope look back on this game and give it the review it couldn't get when it was released. No, instead I've decided to let the game age like a fine wine and I'll look at it now and show how great it still is.

Gameplay: 11 out of a possible 10

The ATB system is one that has served other Final Fantasy games well, and the tradition continued in this game. Fights are dictated at a sometimes frantic pace as you try to manage what attacks to use in a timely fashion. Of course you could always set the system to “wait” in the options menu to give yourself all the time you need to make a decision, but that's neither here nor there.

Every Final Fantasy comes with some sort of new element however, and Final Fantasy 8 is no different. This time the Junction system is introduced. By linking Guardian Forces to you characters you a given the ability to link magic to your stats. This addition to the game gives the player a way to make their character stronger without levelling up. Furthermore this is actually encouraged because as a player levels up their characters, so do the enemies that they have to fight. This in turn introduces a new type of way to play through an RPG not seen before, the no-level run. By not getting into fights (simplified by the Encounter None ability) the player is able to run through the game at lo levels to help make the bosses easier. This adds massive replay ability to the game because a player can choose to level up for an extreme challenge, or pussyfoot around beat the game that way. Or even any combination of both.

Also included in Final Fantasy 8 is the card mini game. Addicting, infuriating, but more than all else fun, it's another element to an already great game. And the best part of it? Completely optional. If card games aren't your cup of tea there's nothing to worry about. But for the person obsessed with 100% completion, there is literally hours of fun to be had trying to get a full card set.

Some people have complained about the Guardian Forces and that they take over the game and that each Guardian Force animation is way to long. However summoning Guardian Forces are completely optional to use in a fight, so if you don't want to you don't have to also. Adding in the Boost ability also makes the summon animations interactive and more deadly. That's win-win.

Story: 8 out of a possible 6

The Story of Final Fantasy 8 is great because it focuses on the personal drama that's going on during the epic story being told. Surely all of it somehow manages to twine together at the end, but there a great moments where everyone forgets about the war against the sorceress and remembers that they all came from the same orphanage. Things like this not only make you feel driven to defeat the sorceress, but that you also care about the characters you're using to do it.

Even greater is that the story being told is a love story. Few games have even attempted something like this, and Final Fantasy was the first one to truly pull it off. And to this day still the best. Every gamer to have ever played this game felt the whole gamut of emotions from hate/jealousy of Seifer for his relationship with Rinoa, to complete joy/amusement from the antics of Laguna. And that also includes the happiness felt when Squall finally realizes his feelings for Rinoa and breaks her out of her prison and they fall into each other's arms and hold each other. An image so powerful it's used as the game's logo.

Included also is the humour of the game. Laguna stands today as the greatest slapstick comedian in a game. One of the funniest lines ever written for a video game still is when Laguna throws his injured pals over a cliff and as he begins to climb down remarks, “You guys sure are brave. This cliff is really high.” And then he himself falls off the cliff. It's fantastic that the writers were able to include such a comical scene even though the seriousness of Ward losing his voice is also there.

Another instance of this would be when Squall is named leader of Garden essentially and doesn't want to do it. So all his friends throw a concert for him and Rinoa dresses up. Irvine has other ideas and leaves a porno magazine lying around for Squall and Rinoa to find when they're supposed to be having a serious moment. It's a nice light hearted touch to keep the player at ease during an otherwise very serious scene.

From top to bottom there isn't one aspect of the story that isn't great.

Characters: 13.3 out of a possible 8.46

This is the second game that Testsuya Nomura did the character design for and it's painfully obvious that he had hit full stride when doing it. Every character looks the way their role would dictate them too, and every single one of them is incredibly memorable.

Also, the characters are developed so incredibly well that they stay with you even after the game has been finished and sits collecting dust on a shelf. Growing up everyone could relate to Squall and how he had such high expectations put on him even though he never really wanted them.

Quistis is the sexy teacher. Everyone, at some point in their life has wanted to bone a teacher of theirs. And we all fell in love with the princess we couldn't ever have or if we could she wanted our worst enemy. Like Rinoa wanting Seifer. Speaking of our worst enemy, no one understood us better, just like Seifer understands sometimes better than he understands himself.

All of the characters from punk Zell to sugar rush Selphie and even ladies man Irvine get their own chance to show us a bit about themselves and we fall in love with them because of it. And if you go the extra mile there a little things put in the game that make you love them even more. Things like Selphie's love of trains and Zell's love of hotdogs are things that make you want to play as these characters and make it hard to decide which ones to include in your party and which ones to leave out.

The guardian forces were also designed by Nomura and they look badass. Ifrit later got his look touched up in Final Fantasy 10 and looked even more badass. Diablos however still stands as the craziest badass gangsta this side of the garden.

Finally, the Gunblade rules like nothing else.

Music: 19 out of a possible 15

Nobuo Uematsu has been the god of video game music since the first Final Fantasy. And he continues his ways with this game. From the opening cinematic we're drawn into the world by the song Liberi Fatali. Later when landing in Dollet the game presents you with a Normandy beach scenario and the song The Landing definitely pumps you up for it.

Final Fantasy 8 is also the first game to introduce the love theme which is played during a special moment held between the story's main character and his love interest. It turned out so well that it has been repeated for both Final Fantasy 9 and 10. What makes the love theme from Final Fantasy 8, Eyes on You by Faye Wong, so great is that the lyrics are as if they were written by a character in the game about another character in the game. And that the words still have meaning when later on Squall and Rinoa are alone together on the Ragnorok makes the song even more special.

Graphics: 8 out of a possible 10

This game was on the original playstation. Even looking back at it now it's hard to say it was the best looking playstation game ever made. It did do some things nicely though. Still, the character animations could have been much better.

Where this game gets most of its points for graphics though is the CG cutscenes. Leaps and bounds ahead of Final Fantasy 7, Square proved to the world that they are the best CG guys making games even today.

Reviewer's tilt: 8 billion out of a possible 10

As I look up from my desk and look at my Squall figurine I know that Final Fantasy 8 is the greatest game I have ever played. Don't go thinking I haven't played many games. I've owned 9 different consoles in my life and played well over 500 games. But what makes this game so special? What makes it better than the rest? It's everything this game does because it does everything perfectly. The meshing of the gameplay and the characters and the art and the music and everything else is so good it just makes you smile when you think about any one of the elements or any combination of them.

But don't take my word for it. I managed to ask Jesus the Christ what he thought about the game. Here's what he had to say, “Apart from myself, Final Fanatasy 8 is the greatest gift my father has given to mankind.” I also asked Jesus my mechanic what he thought. He said, “Hey holmes! It'll be 250$ for the brakes. What? Final Fantasy ocho? Nah essai, I don't play video games.” Straight from the horses mouth. He gives it a score of 250. Incredible.

Final Recommendation:

With a final score of 8 000 000 049.3 out of a possible 59.46 it goes without saying that Final Fantasy is a recommended buy. In fact one should go out and get this game at all costs. Even if that means injuring innocents and or loved ones.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/19/06

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